CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) – The parents of murdered University of Virginia student Hannah Graham are ready to take action to keep others safe.
John and Sue Graham are making a big push before the state crime commission for a measure that could have saved their daughter.
They have a message for lawmakers in Richmond – enhance the state’s DNA database to cover certain types of misdemeanor crimes.
“Doing the utmost possible to remove dangerous sex offenders and murderers from the streets of this country is very basic part of the protection of the people,” said John Graham, Hannah’s father.
John and Sue Graham are set to testify before the state crime commission. They are pushing to add DNA information from people convicted of certain misdemeanor crimes to the state database.
“The fact is there are other Jesse Matthews at large in Virginia and Jesse Matthew’s DNA been taken on his conviction of criminal trespass, then he would have been in jail where he rightfully belonged,” said Sue Graham, Hannah’s mother.
Jesse Matthew murdered abducted and murdered Hannah in September 2014. Her remains were found in a wooded area behind a house on Old Lynchburg road on October 18, 2014.
Four years prior, Matthew was convicted of a misdemeanor crime.
Hannah’s parents say if the change had been in place, Hannah would still be with them.
“He wouldn’t be roaming the streets of Charlottesville looking for victims and Hannah would still be alive,” said John Graham.
In March 2016, Matthew pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and abduction with intent to defile in both the Morgan Harrington and Hannah Graham cases. He is now serving four life sentences.
The Grahams want to make sure people like their daughter’s killer don’t get another chance to offend.
“I think what concerns us is this can happen again to another young woman,” Sue Graham said.
Life is moving forward for John and Sue Graham, but it’s still hard. The raw emotions are still healing.
“She was very much in and acting upon any thought of giving back and we saw that in everything she did and that will be missed surely,” John Graham said.
“On the one hand it’s a nice place to visit, but on the other hand it has those memories for us,” Sue Graham said.
The Grahams are unclear when they could testify in Richmond, but may testify as early as next week before the state crime commission.
The DNA enhancement push is also being backed by Albemarle County’s sheriff and the commonwealth’s attorney.